Awakeningsby Edward Lazellari
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It's as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with a loving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienated even his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they both suffer from retrograde amnesia. It's as if they just appeared out of thin air thirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Now their forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.
Cal's and Seth's lives are turned upside down as they are stalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men's past lives. But these creatures aren't here to help; they're intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore a broken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they're being hunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman who has promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough to protect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds from tyranny and destruction.
Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga by an amazing and talented new storyteller.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
“Lazellari's debut fantasy foretells a promising career. Read Awakenings and get in on the ground floor with a great new writer.” Glen Cook, author of The Black Company series
“Edward Lazellari is a talent to watch with high expectations.” Ben Bova, six-time Hugo Award–Winner
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Read an Excerpt
By Edward Lazellari, Paul Stevens
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2011 Edward Lazellari
All rights reserved.
Callum MacDonnell woke up in a cold sweat and managed to stifle a yell at the last minute. He caught his breath, then rolled out of bed as softly as possible so as not to disturb Cat. Not easy at six foot five, and two hundred and fifty pounds. The light from the street tinted him the same shade of blue as his eyes, like snow under moonlight.
"You don't really think I'm still asleep?" his wife said groggily from the other side of the bed. Catherine MacDonnell propped herself up on her elbows. "You were thrashing around like shark prey."
"Sorry," he said, and sat back down on the bed.
Cat hoisted herself up from the mattress and rested her chin on his shoulder straining to keep her eyes open. "Bad dreams again?" she asked, rubbing his back.
The same dream had plagued Cal for almost two weeks now. He tried to retain the peculiar details of his nightmare even as they dissolved into the ether of his memory. The lack of sleep affected him on patrol, and in New York City that could get a cop killed, especially in his precinct.
"Want to talk about it?" Cat asked.
"It's probably just stress," Cal said.
"Maybe you're worried about the ESU exam?" She slid her fingers up to the back of his neck and kneaded the tension out with an aggressive thumb. Cal responded instantly. His shoulders dropped, his head bobbed to the side, and his muscles softened.
"No," Cal said. "I'll ace it."
"Maybe you're stressed because you're having reoccurring nightmares." She kissed his cheek.
Cal smirked. "You missed your calling as an analyst." He let her dig into his neck and shoulders for a little while more. He'd been reluctant to discuss the dreams because of how strange they were — both in content and familiarity. "This dream feels like I'm living a memory," he said to his wife. There, it was out.
That prospect brought Cat further out of her sleepy haze. "Cal, could it be you're remembering something from before the accident? From your childhood?"
"I don't think so. What I'm dreaming ... it's surreal. I'm in a stone building; there's a fight; someone tells me to go through a door."
"Who told you? Did you recognize a face? A landmark?"
"I was with a group. We were going on a trip. We had a talking horse ..."
"It's weird. At the end, there's this intense grief, a pressure like a moose standing on my chest. Like somebody died."
The thought of that pain made Cal tense up again. He squeezed the bridge of his nose hard and realized he needed an Advil.
"And then ...," Cat prodded.
"That's when I usually wake up. This is the kind of stuff a fifteen-year-old boy dreams of," he said, frustrated. "I just want a full night's sleep. I am feeling stretched thin."
They heard a shuffle in the hallway. The door to the bedroom creaked open.
"Hi Pa," said their five-year-old daughter, Brianna, in a sleepy voice. She stood in the doorway in her flannel Dora the Explorer pajamas, clutching her Elmo doll in her hand. A testament to modern-day marketing.
"Bree, you should be in bed," Cat said, a bit annoyed.
"I heard talking," she offered as her excuse.
Catherine MacDonnell was the law in the MacDonnell home, which was the way Cal liked it in lieu of life in the outside world: long patrols, city politics, and administrative headaches. Her temper was legendary in the neighborhood when someone broke that order. Her hypnotic gunmetal-gray eyes and raven hued tresses — a gift from her Sioux grandmother — gave her a formidable presence, despite her small stature. She could turn whatever spot she stood on into the center of the universe when the mood suited her.
But, despite Cat's protestation, Cal was happy to see Brianna. She was his anchor — his only known blood relative in the world, and he never lost his patience with her. "Don't you have school in a few hours?" Cal said halfheartedly.
Bree looked at her father seriously and said, "It's only kindergarten. All we do is color and play games. And then they make us take a nap so the teachers can relax."
Cal laughed. Even Cat had to fight off a chuckle. "When did you get to be so smart?" Cal asked, holding his arms out. Bree jumped into her father's massive arms, the safest place in her universe.
"Oh, don't encourage her, Cal. We all need to go back to sleep," she said looking at their daughter.
As if on cue, Maggie trotted in wondering who had called a family meeting at this hour and could she get a cookie out of it. The pit bull – lab mutt barked to announce her arrival, then jumped on the bed and proceeded to lick Bree like an ice cream cone.
"Brianna MacDonnell, get to bed this instant," Cat said. "Maggie down!"
Cal knew better than to push his luck. He gave Bree a peck on the cheek and put her down with a pat on the butt. She left the room with Maggie in tow. Cat shook her hair, a bit flustered at the chaos. She studied her husband.
"You've got to see someone about this. You can't keep going to work strung out on no sleep. It's affecting all of us."
"I know. I'll make an appointment with one of the department shrinks."
"Yes, right away," Cal said, rolling his eyes. He lay back down on the bed facing the window, staring out at the winter sky.
Cat snuggled next to Cal and put her arm around him. She kissed him tenderly on the temple and then rested her head against his. "Don't be mad," she said. "That little girl needs her daddy to come home safe every day."
"What about this little girl," he said stroking her arm.
Cat snuggled closer and wrapped her leg around his. They stayed that way until they both fell asleep.
It was the silliest domestic dispute Cal and his partner, Erin Ramos, had ever been called on. The complainant was a seventy-three-year old recent émigré from El Salvador who accused her seventy-eight-year old husband of hiding her teeth because she refused to have sex. Perhaps the ambience of the South Bronx was not as conducive to romance as the Salvadoran countryside. A shouting match ensued, followed by the husband's playfully spanking his wife on the rear end with a spatula. She responded with a rolling pin to his head. One of the neighbors called it in.
"Technically, he battered her first," Erin noted.
Embarrassed by the sudden appearance of the law, the wife was on her third straight minute of explaining her story without coming up for air. Erin tried to keep up for Cal's sake.
"She says she's in America now," Erin translated. "And doesn't have to perform 'wifely' duties when she has a headache. There was an article in the Spanish Cosmo at the manicure shop."
Neighbors spilled into the hallway to witness the commotion.
"Everyone back in their apartment, por favor!" Cal said. He squeezed the bridge of his nose, trying to drive the fatigue from his mind. "I don't have the energy for this tonight. What's the husband say?"
The husband, holding an ice pack on his little bald head, stood about four-foot-nine in slippers. His green pajamas and large thick eyeglasses gave him a tortoise-like countenance.
"He's been getting — 'it' — daily since they were married almost fifty years ago," Erin said. "They have fourteen children. All of a sudden, she started putting him off. And you think you have no energy?"
A trickle of blood slid down the side of the man's age-mottled head. The wife, alarmed, used her dishrag to stop the bleeding and led her husband to an armchair in the living room. At first, he sat stone-faced with wounded pride, but soon patted her arm. She kissed his cheeks even as tears began rolling down her own.
"We're not arresting him," Cal said.
"Two hours in Central Booking over this? Look at them. They adore each other. She probably got razzed at the manicure shop for being old-fashioned. My own wife used to read Cosmo — I'm aware of the consequences. If we arrest him, she's going to feel awful."
"Well, short of booking them separate vacations, what do we do?"
"She is seventy-three. We should probably cool him down a bit." Cal pulled out his ticket book and wrote, "conjugal engagements, three times per week, only." He tore out the ticket and showed it to Erin.
"Translate this and inform them it's an official warrant. They can have sex three times a week."
"This isn't legal," Erin said.
"They don't know that."
"Erin, who's going to know their business? If she's in the mood, they'll think they're being naughty. If she's not, he'll be too worried about what the next cop will write up to push it." Cal gave his partner a big smile. "For God's sake, Erin, the woman can't chew."
Erin laughed. "Okay, but Lord help us if she turns frigid and he whips out your 'warrant' to the next unit that answers the call."
The old woman gave some rosary beads to Erin and a tin of butter cookies to Cal before shutting the door. Cal called it in to Central, and they left.
Rain pattered the roof of their cruiser as Cal and Erin resumed patrolling the South Bronx. The drumming water had a pacifying effect. No one knew better than Cal how the four-to-twelve shift could put a kink in a person's biological clock. Add to that his insomnia and it was a recipe for bad judgment on a dangerous job. He'd promised Cat he'd see a department therapist, but had yet to make an appointment. As of 11:00 P.M., Cal was willing to give out slaps on the wrist until midnight so that he wouldn't have to pull overtime booking suspects. He prayed the rain would keep people indoors and out of trouble. He was determined to hit his pillow before 1:00 A.M.
Erin had a passion for Latin music that she foisted on her partners. Cal was grateful for the upbeat tempo that helped counter the lulling effects of the rain.
"You're gonna love this one," she said with one hand on the wheel and the other jiggling a CD into the deck. "I recorded it when Tito Puente came to Orchard Beach. You never heard percussion like this."
"Look, all this Latin stuff sounds great to me," Cal said. "But I can't tell the difference between salsa, calypso, or marinara," he yawned.
"Marinara is a pasta sauce."
"Whatever. The music is keeping me awake. Your lecture does the opposite."
As Erin continued, Cal closed his eyes, convinced it would help him stay awake if he focused on the music. Twice, he jolted as he faded toward slumber, shaking his head and forcing his eyes open to their extreme. Erin hadn't noticed. He concentrated on the music, tried to single out each instrument, an exercise that would keep his mind alert. He was not going to sleep. Erin's chattering grew fainter. He fell toward slumber, like a kid hurtling down a slide ...
They were all dead. The blood-drenched valley was littered with corpses and broken bodies, many belonging to those who were barely yet men. Smoke billowed from burning towns and the nearby forest, painting the sky charcoal. Winged cavalry fluttered before them like a swarm of locusts. The last remaining defenders clustered on the battlements.
Royal guardsmen were building barricades throughout the castle — every man was ready to go down fighting. "You can't be serious, Father?" It was the first time Cal had ever questioned his commander's authority.
"Listen to me," said the old man. "The boy must be protected on this journey." It smelled like a parent trying to send his son away from a slaughter.
"My duty is to defend this castle until my last breath!"
"Your duty is whatever I ...!" The old man's nose and cheeks shone like hot iron against his white whiskers. He let out a big breath, and his face softened.
Cal looked into the old warrior's piercing blue eyes and wondered when this tired old man had replaced the robust warrior who was permanently etched in his mind. It was not so long ago he was jumping into the man's arms, pleading for a fencing lesson. He felt like that boy again.
"This building keeps the rain off the regent in a storm. Our responsibility lies with the kingdom, with the family. I've no idea if the hell I'm sending you into is any better than the one we're about to face. I only know that the boy's chances fare better under your watchful eye."
"This is it, then?" Cal said.
"I still have a few tricks up my sleeve," the old man said with a smile.
No child was closer to his sire than a MacDonnell. It was their strength. Cal could see his father's heart breaking for not giving him a better world to inherit. He wanted to tell the old man that he had done better than anyone else could have, but before he could utter a word, his commander said:
"Go! They're waiting on you. Take any servant that swears fealty to his lordship. Wherever you end up, remember your duty to the kingdom. Our family has protected this dynasty for seven generations."
A loud crash sounded a few rooms away. Metal clashing. Screams of butchered men echoed across the palace. Cal raced down the hallway without looking back. A blinding light emanated from the pantry as though a thousand candles burned. From inside the room he heard a voice.
"Idafor ... susma ... lewear ... respond ..."
Erin was shaking his arm. "Cal, wake up."
The radio blared, "Four-One Ida, ten-thirty-one reported at nine hundred fifty-seven, Kelly Street. Suspect is a large Caucasian male, in a suit, wearing a black fedora, last seen heading for the roof."
"Ten-Four Central, Four-One Ida responding," Erin reported into the radio. "Do you have a call back, over?"
"Affirmative on call back. What is your position?"
"We're two blocks from site, Central. We got it."
Cal was shaking his head, trying to wake up in a hurry.
"Can't blame you for being tired, partner ... I wouldn't get any sleep either if Cat were my girl," Erin said with a smile.
"Very funny. What's going on?"
"It's a prowler. He'll probably be gone when we get there."
"Should we wait for backup?" "Nah. One look at your nine-foot ass and he'll surrender on the spot."
In spite of himself, Cal hoped the perp would be gone by the time they arrived.
They rolled up in front of the building. Cal picked up the radio. "We're eighty-four at nine-five-seven Kelly Street, Central," he said. "What's the response on the call back?"
"Four-One Ida, suspect threatened tenant with an ax, last seen heading toward roof. He's described as a large Caucasian in a raincoat. No confirmation that he has left the area yet, over."
"Why did this skell stick around?" Cal grunted. "We're dealing with a moron."
"Crack addicts, murderers, and rapists, oh my," Erin said. "You want easy, move to Iowa."
"Four-One Ida requesting eighty-five forthwith at present location, over," Cal said.
"Affirmative, Four-One Adam responding to request for backup. ETA is six minutes."
"Thank you, Central," Erin said airily.
"Wait by the entrance," Cal said. "We'll flush him out."
Erin looked at her partner with amazement. "You want to flush him down alone?" she asked.
"Sooner we nab him, the earlier we book him and the faster I get to bed."
"What confidence. Nice having muscles to spare."
"Speed and leverage can beat raw strength in hand-to-hand," he said.
"Easy for you to say."
Cal looked up at the tenement. It was a five-story walk-up, the kind with a great crown at the top of the façade, one that had seen better days. He entered and searched the ground floor. Paint peeled off the heat pipes. It smelled like rice and beans and greasy chicken. Trash bags were piled in the corner by the basement door. Cal checked it. Locked. Erin stood in the vestibule by the mailboxes ... no room to slip past her. Cal heard a noise from above, and looked up the stairwell. A woman was peering down from the fourth floor. She waved him up. He climbed the stairs slowly, making sure each landing was clear of people before proceeding.
The woman was a young Hispanic, short with brown eyes and cropped curly hair, in a loose tank top that barely contained her. Cal could see and hear a group of children peering through the crack in her apartment door.
"Cállense!" she yelled at them. Then she turned to him. "Fue grande, mas grande que usted. Se fue a través del techo y hacia el edificio abandonado al lado."
"I'm sorry, I don't speak Spanish. Here," Cal said, pulling his radio mouthpiece toward the woman. "Say it into this."
"He went next door through the roof," Erin translated.
"Shit. That's great. Poking around a decrepit building in the dark. If the perp doesn't get me the tetanus will."
"I can go," Erin offered.
"No. You stay downstairs. Same plan, different building. I'll follow him through the roof and flush him out."
With a little luck, their backup would arrive by the time he got there.
Excerpted from Awakenings by Edward Lazellari, Paul Stevens. Copyright © 2011 Edward Lazellari. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
EDWARD LAZELLARI has worked as an illustrator and graphic artist, doing projects for Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, and Jim Henson Productions. His short story, "The Date," won Playboy magazine's prestigious college fiction contest in 1999. Lazellari lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. Awakenings is his first novel.
EDWARD LAZELLARI has worked as an illustrator and graphic artist, doing projects for Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, and Jim Henson Productions. His short story, “The Date,” won Playboy magazine’s prestigious college fiction contest in 1999. Lazellari lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
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As someone not familiar with sci-fi / fantasy, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Awakenings. I liked the character development throughout the novel, never sure of how it would unfold. The pacing and tone were upbeat and engaging. I felt a particular connection to Cat MacDonnell because her situation with her husband has no easy resolution. I raced through the last 100 pages wondering how on earth it was going to play out! Without giving anything away, once I finished the last page I was sad that I didn¿t have book two ready to devour. Awakenings is a great first book for any author, and I am looking forward to the second (and third) in this series.
Married with children NYPD officer Cal MacDonnell loner photographer Seth Raincrest seemingly have nothing in common. Yet both share something critical in which neither can remember anything about their lives beyond the past thirteen years. The past just seem to never exist for either man. They soon share a second problem when otherworldly essences stalk them. These malevolent seem to know what happened to Cal and Seth thirteen years ago. Leilani the centaur arrives and asks the two beleaguered males to trust her as she will help them learn what they forgot and why. She escorts them to Aandor, where they performed a major duty thirteen years ago before the amnesia curse made them forget and now must begin a quest for the lost heir who can save the kingdom. This is an entertaining quest fantasy that starts off as an urban fantasy when the two Manhattan residents are being hunted by paranormal creatures on the streets of the city. Part of the fun is the reaction of secondary characters especially in the city like Cal's twenty first century wife Cat having doubts that their Kindergarten aged daughter Bree marrying a minor medieval mindset is reasonable for her. Although Aandor is more typical of the genre, readers will relish the two heroes struggling with remembering what happened on their last visit while dodging some nasty beings who are also searching for the lost heir in two realms. Harriet Klausner
This book captures the grit & cadence of urban streets in a story combining elements of ancient legend & fables, with contemporary twist & realism, making for an enjoyably readable novel. The protagonists minor & major are solidly constructed; worthy for reading on about, whether you love them or hate them, because they come readily pictured to mind- it is easy to see them, to hear them, & want to follow, to find out what they will do next. Action is not predictable, plot takes turns both unexpected & original, while notes mix in of universal themes such as love & loss, loyalty vs freedom, confrontation vs flight. An excellent start to a fascinating trilogy, reminiscent of authors who mingle time & place shifts with the greatest of ease, the Neil Gaimans, Alan Moores, Phillip Pullmans, plus a dash of the humor of a Douglass Adams to boot amongst others. The next installment will find a growing audience impatient for our story to return.
Quick paced and fun.